This is the kind of soup you dream about. It hails from chef James Friedberg from modern-day diner Nickel & Diner, which opened in NYC a few months ago. When creating the dish, Friedberg drew inspiration from the classics, like refined consommé and matzo ball soup. He was also inspired by the restaurant's locale. Sitting at the crossroads of Chinatown and Little Italy, Nickel & Diner is situated in one of NYC's most vibrant food neighborhoods—a point not lost on Friedberg. Take this chicken and ricotta dumpling soup, for example, which uses ginger, a favorite Chinese ingredient, to brighten Italian-inspired ricotta dumplings.
The broth is made from scratch and has a concentrated flavor. There's an almost sweet note from the leeks, while spicy ginger awakens your taste buds. Still, nothing compares to the best part of this soup: the soft pillows of ricotta dumplings.
Pro tip: Work in advance on this one. Make the dumplings and stock on the same night. Roll your dumplings in flour and once your stock is ready, strain and refrigerate it, along with the floured dumplings. That way, all that's left the next day is to cook everything together in one pot.
Chicken and Ricotta Dumpling Soup
Recipe adapted from Chef James Friedberg, Nickel & Diner, New York, NY
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus overnight refrigeration
Cook Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes, plus overnight refrigeration
For the Ricotta Dumplings:
1½ cups ricotta
½ cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup Parmesan, finely grated
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
For the Broth:
1 (3-to-4-pound) chicken, rinsed and dried
½ onion, halved
½ medium carrot, halved
1 celery stalk
1 thyme sprig
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
About 14 cups water
For the Chicken and Ricotta Dumpling Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, green stems removed, rinsed and diced
2-inch piece ginger, minced
Dill sprigs, for garnish
1. Make the ricotta dumplings: In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the flour, until smooth, then transfer to a piping bag. Spread 1½ cups of the flour evenly onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pipe the cheese mixture into 12 golf ball-sized dumplings, 1½ inches in diameter, over the flour. Roll the dumplings in the flour until fully coated and cover with the remaining 1½ cups of flour. Wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, shake the ricotta dumplings gently, one by one, in a fine-mesh sieve to remove any excess flour. Reserve for later.
2. Prepare the broth: Preheat the oven to 400º. Break down the chicken: Remove the breasts, dice and reserve for later, then separate the drumsticks and thighs. Roast the bones, drumsticks and thighs until golden brown, 45 minutes. In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add the roast chicken and the remaining broth ingredients, and cover completely with water. Bring the stock up to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1½ hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and reserve the liquid.
3. Prepare the chicken and dumpling soup: Using the same pot, heat the olive oil and sweat the leeks until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer, add the diced chicken breast and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165º, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Add the ricotta dumplings to the broth and cook until tender, 10 minutes. Add the diced chicken back to the pot and stir. Ladle the soup into a bowl, garnish with a sprinkle of ginger and a dill sprig, then serve.